Are intestinal fungi linked to the development of cancer?
Certain types of fungi that colonize the intestine appear to be linked to the development of cancer. A more precise knowledge of the connection could open new methods of early detection and new therapeutic approaches and improve immune treatments. A research team from New York now wants to fill in the existing knowledge gaps in the field.
Dr. Iliyan D. Iliev is Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York (USA). His group has now received a $1.25 million grant from the Cancer Research Institute to study the link between fungi in the gut and the development of certain cancers, such as colon cancer or pancreatic cancer.
First major study on the subject
The grant will allow Dr. Iliev's laboratory to further investigate the relationships between certain fungal species and cancers.
The professor had already proven in advance that people with ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, had an increased risk of colon cancer. The working group was able to attribute the increased risk to a particular composition of the intestinal flora in which certain fungal strains predominated.
"We found that some patients carry specific strains of fungi that spread and produce a toxin that affects inflammation," says Dr. Iliev.
Promising research approach
Over the next five years, her team now wants to examine how the presence of certain fungi influences the development of cancer and how this can be used to diagnose and treat cancer. One of the objectives of the research program is to improve immunotherapies against cancer.
What should be examined?
As part of the study, Dr. Iliev and his colleagues are able to isolate different types of intestinal fungi and observe their effects in mouse models. The knowledge thus acquired should then be verified in human cancer patients.
New actors in the development of cancer
as Dr. Iliev points out that intestinal fungi play a role in the development of cancer that has so far received little attention. "There have been reports of certain types of fungi being linked to pancreatic cancer, for example," says the research director.
“We have now developed methods that allow us to assess microbial components in different tumor types to coordinate hypothesis and modeling in a timely manner,” says Dr. Iliev. (vb)
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
Sources:Weill Cornell Medicine: Grant Funds Study of the Role of Fungi in Cancer Development and Immunotherapy (published 7/18/2022), news.weill.cornell.edu
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.